As a frequent visitor to Cornwall, I know that choosing the right place to stay can make all the difference in ensuring an unforgettable trip. With over 400 miles of coastline, each area in Cornwall offers unique experiences, from stunning beaches to scenic hiking trails and fascinating historical sites. In this guide, I'll be providing specific and detailed information on the best places to stay in Cornwall with my favourite hotels.
If you're a beach lover, you'll want to consider staying in areas like St Ives or Newquay. St Ives is a charming town known for its artistic community, picturesque beaches, and lively atmosphere, while Newquay is a popular destination for surfers, with a range of accommodations available.
For those interested in history and culture, Truro is Cornwall's only city and offers a vibrant arts scene, shops, restaurants, and easy access to the coast and countryside.
Tintagel is a small village with a rich history and mystical atmosphere, famous for its association with King Arthur and the ruins of Tintagel Castle.
For a slower pace of life and a chance to immerse yourself in Cornwall's fishing heritage, consider staying in Looe or Padstow. Looe is a charming fishing village with a picturesque harbour and a range of shops and cafes making it perfect for families. Padstow is another fishing village, home to the famous Rick Stein restaurants, and a great base to explore some of Cornwall's best beaches.
The Lizard Peninsula, located in the southernmost part of Cornwall, is known for its rugged natural beauty and quiet beaches. It's a great option if you want to get away from the crowds and explore the unspoiled coastline.
St Austell is also a good choice, offering easy access to the Eden Project and the charming fishing village of Mevagissey.
Here are the best towns to stay in Cornwall which suit a wide variety of interests. For each town, I've included the best accommodation options to make it easier for you to book your favourite based on the type of travel you enjoy and budget.
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|? Best overall hotel:
|? Most gorgeous hotel:
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best part of Cornwall to stay in?
The best part of Cornwall to stay in depends on your interests. St Ives and Newquay are great for beach lovers, Truro for history and culture, Tintagel for a mystical atmosphere, Looe and Padstow for a fishing heritage, the Lizard Peninsula for rugged natural beauty, and St Austell for easy access to the Eden Project and Mevagissey. Each area offers unique experiences and accommodations for different types of travellers.
Where should I stay in Cornwall for the first time?
St Ives is an ideal location for first-time visitors to Cornwall. This charming town is known for its artistic community, picturesque beaches, lively atmosphere, and wide range of accommodations. St Ives offers a unique blend of art, culture, and natural beauty, making it a great starting point for exploring the rest of Cornwall.
How many days is enough for Cornwall?
To see the major sights and enjoy the area's natural beauty, a minimum of 3-4 days is recommended. If you are keen to explore the county in more depth, 1-2 weeks would be a better choice.
Where should I holiday in Cornwall?
Cornwall has many great holiday destinations, each offering unique experiences. Some popular places to consider include St Ives for its picturesque beaches and artistic community, Newquay for its surfing scene, Truro for its history and culture, Tintagel for its mystical atmosphere and association with King Arthur, Looe and Padstow for their fishing heritage, and the Lizard Peninsula for its rugged natural beauty.
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Best place to stay in Cornwall for first timers
St Ives is the perfect place to stay in Cornwall on your first visit thanks to its breathtaking beaches, lively arts scene, and convenient location for exploring the region.
St Ives is situated on a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Celtic Sea, surrounded by world-class beaches. Porthgwidden Beach is perfect for families, while Porthmeor Beach is a popular destination for surfing enthusiasts. The stretch of sandy beaches from Hayle to Gwithian is the ideal place for a romantic stroll or a day of relaxation.
St Ives is also an exciting hub of arts and culture, with a thriving arts scene and many galleries and studios to explore. Make sure to visit The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Cornwall's very own Tate Gallery. St Ives is the place to be if you are a seafood lover, as there are many great restaurants serving fresh seafood at reasonable prices.
In terms of attractions, St Ives is perfectly situated for exploring Cornwall's many landmarks and sights. Some places, like the nearby Land's End and the historic St Michael's Mount, are just a short drive away, while others are within 1-1.5 hours. The town's picturesque fishing harbour is a must-see, especially when viewed from the water. Take a boat trip to nearby Seal Island, where you can see Grey Atlantic seals in their natural habitat.
St Ives has a rich history, with a thriving fishing industry and local mines that exported tin and copper. The town embraced tourism in the 1870s, and recently has received numerous accolades from prestigious travel publications.
As for accommodations, St Ives offers a wide range of options to suit all budgets and needs, from cosy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels. Keep in mind that some accommodations may have minimum stay requirements, especially during the high season, so it's best to book as soon as you know your travel dates.
Our top hotel picks in St Ives are:
- Hotel: St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa
- Shepherd's Hut: Downsfield
- Guesthouse: Primrose House
- Gueshouse: Grey Mullet
Best place to stay in Cornwall for surfing
Newquay is a surfer's paradise and is undoubtedly the best place to stay in Cornwall if you're looking to hit the waves. With a range of beaches suitable for surfers of all abilities, it's no wonder Newquay has become a mecca for water sports enthusiasts.
Fistral Beach is the star attraction and is considered the home of British surfing. This 800-meter-long stretch of golden sand is the ideal spot to catch some astonishing rolling waves. It is also the venue for national and international surfing competitions that attract surfers from all over the world. If you're a beginner, don't worry, there are plenty of surf schools and hire shops to help you get started.
But surfing isn't the only attraction in Newquay. Families can also enjoy quieter, sheltered beaches such as Great Western, Lusty Glaze, Tolcarne, and Towan. These beaches are perfect if you want to paddle, build sandcastles, and explore rock pools. You can even visit the Blue Reef Aquarium, the Holywell Bay Fun Park, or Jungle Jack's if you want to spend a day away from the beach.
Newquay offers plenty of coastal and country trails for walkers and cyclists. You can even take a boat trip around the coast, visit the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre, or have a round of mini-golf at the Bunker Cafe.
After a long day in the water, there are plenty of pubs, bars, and restaurants to choose from. You can indulge in some fast-food or dine in one of the many fine-dining restaurants. Families can enjoy a quiet meal together or head to the livelier bars that are aimed at the younger surfing community.
As for accommodation, Newquay has plenty of options. Select from self-catering apartments, cottages, and houses, surf lodges, holiday parks, and hotels. You'll easily find something to fit your budget, and most accommodations are just a short walk from the beach.
Our top hotel picks in Newquay are:
- Luxury: Harbour Hotel
- Mid-Range: Newquay Beach Hotel
- Adults-Only: Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa
- B&B: Tolcarne Beach
- Apartment: 96 Newquay Bay Resort Pet friendly
Perfect place to stay in Cornwall for culture
Falmouth, situated on the south coast of Cornwall, is a fascinating town with a rich maritime heritage that has remained an integral part of the town's identity. It is home to the third-deepest natural harbour in the world, which has been vital to its growth as a commercial port.
The town features an impressive range of attractions, including the National Maritime Museum Cornwall on Discovery Quay, which tells the story of Falmouth's maritime heritage and has interactive exhibits that bring the past to life.
For a glimpse into Falmouth's history, head to Pendennis Castle, built by King Henry VIII in 1540. The castle provides a glimpse into castle life through the ages, and its strategic position provides breathtaking views over the estuary.
Falmouth is an ideal destination for anyone interested in art and culture. The town is home to a number of galleries and museums, including the Falmouth Art Gallery and the Falmouth History Archive. Explore the Jacob's Ladder steps to the top for a panoramic view of the town and a well-deserved pint of Cornish cider at the Jacob's Ladder Pub.
Falmouth is a great place to stay for those who enjoy being active. There are a variety of water activities available in Falmouth such as surfing, canoeing, kayaking, and boating in the town's natural harbour. The town is home to a range of gardens, including Fox Rosehill Garden, Glendurgan Valley Garden, and Trebah Valley Garden, where you can relax and unwind amidst stunning flora and fauna.
Falmouth has a range of accommodation options, from historic cottages to luxurious five-star hotels, catering to all budgets and needs. It is an excellent base for exploring Cornwall, with excellent transport links, including three railway stations and a ferry service to St Mawes.
Our top hotel picks in Falmouth are:
Great place to stay in Cornwall for foodies
Padstow is the perfect destination for foodies looking for a taste of Cornwall's exceptional local cuisine. The charming town located on the north coast is the proud home of celebrated chef Rick Stein, who opened his renowned Seafood Restaurant in 1975 and has since added several other fantastic eateries to his collection. You can also find a restaurant owned by TV chef Paul Ainsworth in Padstow.
While the town is a food lover's haven, there is plenty more to explore in Padstow than doing delicious restaurant hopping. The town's bustling harbour is a mixture of working fishing boats and pleasure boats, offering boat tours to explore the local marine wildlife, including puffins, dolphins, seals, and even sharks.
Padstow's narrow, medieval streets lead to its quaint harbour, where you can take a break at one of the many coffee shops, cafés, pubs, or restaurants. Take a walk to the stunning golden sand family beaches of St George's Cove, Tregirls, and Hawker's Cove or explore the popular surfing beaches of Constantine Bay, Harlyn, and Polzeath.
The area around Padstow offers plenty of visitor attractions, including the grand Elizabethan country house and gardens of Prideaux Place, with a deer park and cream tea on the terrace. You can take a boat trip to go dolphin, shark, or seal watching, charter a boat for some fishing, or catch a ferry to The Rock, a small islet that's a regular holiday destination for royalty and the well-heeled.
For the active traveller, the 7-mile coastal path to Harlyn Bay offers stunning views and passes several smugglers' caves. The 18-mile Camel Trail is an excellent way to explore the countryside on foot, bike, or horseback, following an old railway track that takes you through to Bodmin Moor and back again.
In the evenings, Padstow becomes a paradise for foodies, with numerous restaurants that attract diners from across the county. Four of these are owned and operated by Rick Stein himself.
You'll find plenty of accommodation options in and around Padstow, from B&Bs, guesthouses, and cottages to lovely hotels.
Our top hotel picks in Padstow are:
Ideal place to stay in Cornwall for Boho vibes
Penzance, located on the south coast of Cornwall, is the ideal destination for those seeking a Bohemian atmosphere. Its history dates back to the 15th century, and the town still features old Cornish granite buildings, smugglers' inns, and narrow streets that take you back in time.
If you love exploring art and culture, you'll want to visit the Exchange Art Gallery and the Penlee House Gallery and Museum for a dose of local art and history. Penzance's Chapel Street is also a must-visit destination, offering an array of shops, businesses, and hotels.
Garden lovers should visit the Morrab Gardens in town and the Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, the town's micro-climate offers a variety of native and exotic flora. You can also enjoy a stroll along the only Victorian promenade in Cornwall, or take a dip in the UK's largest art deco sea-water lido, the Jubilee Pool.
For an unforgettable experience, take a 3-mile coastal walk to the nearby village of Marazion, where you'll find the iconic St Michael's Mount - a small island with its own 12th-century castle.
Penzance is located just 3 miles away from the picturesque village of Mousehole, which is home to pretty cottages and a small, sheltered beach, perfect for young families.
Accommodation options in Penzance are varied, ranging from apartments and B&Bs to hostels, and holiday parks. Penzance's range of accommodation tends to be more suitable for those looking to enjoy a more budget friendly Cornwall.
Our top hotel picks in Penzance are:
Stay here for the Eden Project
St Austell is the perfect destination for visitors who want to explore Cornwall's top attractions, particularly the world-famous Eden Project. The market town is located just two miles away from the Eden Project, one of the most popular destinations in the region. The project is an enormous complex featuring two large biomes that house thousands of plant species from all over the world. It's an incredibly popular attraction, and staying in St Austell allows you to beat the crowds.
In addition to the Eden Project, St Austell is surrounded by gorgeous countryside and is within easy reach of some of Cornwall's most beautiful beaches. St Austell itself has a charming market town vibe, with an array of shops, restaurants, and cafés. Explore the town's history by visiting the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum or by taking a tour of the St Austell Brewery.
St Austell's central location makes it an ideal base for exploring the rest of Cornwall. Mevagissey, a picturesque fishing village, is just a short drive away and is home to the stunning Lost Gardens of Heligan. If you drive, you can easily reach some of Cornwall's other top attractions, such as the historic port town of Falmouth and the charming village of Padstow.
Accommodation options in St Austell are varied and cater to all budgets, from affordable guest houses to more upscale hotels. Visitors can choose to stay in the heart of the town or in one of the surrounding villages for a more peaceful retreat.
Our top hotel picks in St Austell are:
- Luxury: Boscundle Manor
- Luxury: The Carlyon Bay Hotel and Spa
- Mid-range: The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Lodges
- Apartment: Rustic Charlestown
- Inn: The Royal Inn
Best place to stay for city break
Truro, Cornwall's only city, is a must-visit destination for those looking for the perfect combination of a vibrant town with cultural attractions, shopping, and restaurants, and being within easy reach of Cornwall's beautiful natural scenery. The city dates back to the 13th century and is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it the ideal place for those who want to enjoy a Cornish city break.
Visit Truro's Gothic-style cathedral with its distinctive green spire and the site of the 13th-century castle which now holds the Courts of Justice. There are also plenty of Georgian and Victorian townhouses dotted around the town, and the Royal Cornwall Museum on River Street is worth a visit.
Truro is a shopper's paradise, with an array of designer shops, high street stores, markets, and independent traders to suit every taste and budget. The city is also home to several beautiful gardens, including the Trelissick Estate, Bosvigo Garden, Tregothnan Estate, Victoria Gardens, and Poppy Cottage Garden.
Truro is located roughly in the centre of Cornwall, making it a great base from which to explore the rest of the county. The city has excellent transport links, and you can easily take a boat along the tributaries of the River Fal to visit Falmouth or head to the stunning Roseland Peninsula for a day trip.
Truro offers a good, varied selection of accommodation, including historic guest houses and hotels, self-catering apartments and farmhouses, as well as holiday parks and B&Bs.
Our top hotel picks in Truro are:
The ideal place to stay in Cornwall for families
Looe is the perfect place for families to enjoy a vacation on Cornwall's southern coast. The town is situated along the River Looe and has been a popular destination for holidaymakers since the arrival of the railways in the 1800s.
The town is divided into two by the River Looe. West Looe and East Looe are joined by a bridge that spans the river. Looe's sandy beach is located on the east side, and as the tide goes out, many rock pools are exposed that will keep the little ones occupied for hours.
Looe has a quaint little harbour and small, safe beaches. Families particularly love Millendreath Beach, located in a sheltered cove and with plenty of rock pools to explore!
Looe has several attractions, including the Looe Museum, which showcases the town's railway heritage, smuggling memorabilia, and a collection of model boats. Families can also visit the Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary, where rescued monkeys receive tender, loving care.
Adrenaline Quarry is a great spot for adventurous families, offering zip-lining, go-karting, and a water park. For nature lovers, the area is a marine nature reserve that includes Looe Island. Organized trips are available, and you can expect to see Atlantic seals and nesting seabirds such as cormorants, shags, and oystercatchers.
There are many options for accommodation in Looe, including caravan and holiday parks, B&Bs, guesthouses, private self-catering options, and hotels.
Our top hotel picks in Looe are:
- Mid-range: Portbyhan Hotel
- Apartment: The Captain's Lodge Looe
- Apartment: Chalet with parking on site
Great place to stay in Cornwall for history lovers
Tintagel, located on the rugged north Cornwall coast, is a captivating destination for history enthusiasts. The village is steeped in myths and legends of King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table, and the Welsh wizard, and its legendary Norman castle is a fascinating site to explore.
Aside from the castle ruins, Tintagel has plenty of interesting attractions related to King Arthur. Visit the Hall of Chivalry, or King Arthur's Great Halls, where you can see the king's granite throne and the knights' round table. The village also has the St. Materiana's Church, built during Norman times, and the Old Post Office dating back to the 14th century.
Tintagel is a charming village with a variety of pottery shops, galleries, gift shops, cafes, tea-rooms, and quality restaurants. There is a path down to Castle Cove, a small pebbly beach safe for young children, where you can explore Merlin's Cave and enjoy the stunning views.
Tintagel has a wide range of accommodation options with the usual guest houses and hotels but you can also find camping and caravan sites in the area.
Our top hotel picks in Tintagel are:
The Lizard Peninsula
Best place to stay in Cornwall for natural beauty
The Lizard Peninsula is a top destination for those who seek to experience the natural beauty of Cornwall. This rugged coastline features rare geological formations, which create the perfect habitat for an abundance of flora and fauna. Its two main roads keep the area largely undeveloped, preserving the picturesque villages that reflect the peninsula's rich seafaring history.
Explore the Lizard's many beautiful beaches and hidden coves, relax on the golden sands or take part in a range of water activities. One of the most popular spots is Kynance Cove, known for its dramatic cliffs, white sands, and turquoise waters. There are also many other hidden gems to be discovered along the coastline, from rocky shores ideal for diving to secluded beaches that require a trek along the coast path.
Apart from the stunning beaches, the Lizard also offers a range of other activities, from nature walks to discovering the area's rich history. Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted to see an abundance of marine life, including seals, dolphins, and even the occasional whale, off the shores of the Point. Bird watchers can also spot a variety of sea birds and peregrine falcons, as well as the Cornish chough, which has recently returned to the area after a long absence.
The Lizard Peninsula is a designated National Character Area, and Natural England, the National Trust, and Cornwall Wildlife Trust all help to protect and care for its unique landscape and wildlife.
Self catering is the most prevalent form of accommodation here. You will be spoilt for choice though, as you will find some secluded and wonderful cottages with everything you need to be home away from home. There are some hotels in the area if you prefer it.
A car is recommended for anyone who wishes to stay in the Lizard Peninsula as it's a more rural and remote area in Cornwall.
Our top hotel picks in The Lizard Peninsula are:
Ideal place to stay in Cornwall for couples
Marazion is the perfect place to stay in Cornwall for couples who are looking for a romantic getaway. This small town is the gateway to the famous Saint Michael's Mount, providing easy access to this iconic Cornish landmark at any time of the day. Marazion also boasts stunning beaches and long walks by the sea, making it an ideal location for a relaxing and romantic weekend.
While Marazion is not as lively in the evenings compared to other places in Cornwall, it is still an excellent base for exploring the area. Its proximity to the main roads makes it easy to travel to other major attractions in Western Cornwall, such as Land's End, St Ives, Newquay, Helston, and the popular destinations of the Minack Theatre, the St. Ives Tate Gallery, and the Eden Project. Moreover, Marazion is within easy travelling distance of all the other areas in Cornwall, making it a perfect location for couples who are keen to explore the region.
One of the most popular attractions in Marazion is Saint Michael's Mount. This picturesque island is just off the shore at Marazion and can be accessed by causeway when the tide is low or by boat at high-tide. The Mount is home to a working community of local people, as well as a large medieval castle. The castle creates an imposing, dramatic spectacle when viewed from the land or sea. The island also boasts beautiful sub-tropical gardens, a small harbour, gift shops, a restaurant, and tea rooms.
Marazion has a rich history dating back to 1257 when King Henry III granted the town its charter. The town was once a thriving centre for pilgrims who came to visit Saint Michael's Mount. Today, it remains a centre for tourism in West Cornwall, offering a wide selection of accommodations such as guesthouses, camping sites, caravan campsites, bed & breakfast accommodation, and hotels. Marazion also has a lovely variety of restaurants, bars, and pubs. Shoppers will be delighted with the variety of gift and craft shops, while art lovers will find hours of pleasure perusing the many art galleries showing prominent local artists.
Our top hotel picks in Marazion are:
- Mid-range: The Godolphin Hotel
- Holiday Home: Sea view house in Marazion
- Apartment: Polgew Studio
- House: Cosy Cottage
Perfect place to stay in Cornwall for a quiet holiday
Bude is a great choice for those looking for a peaceful and relaxing holiday as this hidden gem is nestled on the rugged and remote northern coast of Cornwall near the Devon border. This unspoiled town boasts miles of breathtaking beaches, with the family-friendly Summerleaze Beach being a must-visit. Complete with the safe and spectacular Bude Sea Pool - a 300-foot long wonder that's partly man-made and partly natural - it's the perfect place for little ones to splash around in the surf.
Bude is also an adventurer's paradise with easy access to the South West Coast Path and the scenic 10-mile circular Planekeeper's Path, following the Bude Canal route all the way to Hobbacott. Rowboat rentals are also available for those who want to explore the charming canal and its surroundings.
Geology enthusiasts are in for a treat, as Bude's unusual rock formations offer plenty of learning opportunities. Embark on a geological tour to uncover the mysteries behind these fascinating natural wonders. You can also head to the town's museum located in the Victorian castellated mansion, Bude Castle, for an immersive and informative experience.
Beyond Bude, this town is a fantastic base for exploring the best of Cornwall and Devon. With Exeter just over an hour's drive away in Devon, and Falmouth just two hours away in Cornwall, you can easily explore the wider region. Despite its secluded location, Bude offers all the amenities you need in a bustling town, with local businesses, shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and takeaways to satisfy all your cravings. Choose from a variety of accommodation options, from cosy self-catering apartments, cottages, and houses, to welcoming guest houses and hotels in town, as well as holiday homes and caravan parks on the outskirts.
Our top hotel picks in Bude are:
In conclusion, Cornwall has so much to offer, from stunning beaches and breathtaking landscapes to fascinating history and culture. Whether you are a beach lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or a fan of art and culture, there is a town or village in Cornwall that will perfectly suit your needs. By following this guide and choosing the right place to stay, you can ensure an unforgettable trip to this beautiful region.
More travel tips and inspiration for the UK:
- England: Top places to visit in England
- London: Where to stay in London & London Itinerary & What to wear in London & London Souvenirs & Top things to do in London
- Manchester: Best things to do in Manchester
- Bath: Top attractions in Bath
- Cotswolds: Where to stay in Cotswolds & Most Romantic places in Cotswolds
- Yorkshire: Harrogate & Knaresborough & Hawes & Hebden Bridge & Malham Cove
- Scotland: Edinburgh & Ullapool & Best places to visit & Scottish souvenirs